Pregnant women offered up to £300 if they stop smoking under new scheme in South Tyneside

Pregnant women in South Tyneside are being offered up to £300 to stop smoking.

Pregnant women are being offered financial incentives to stop smoking
Pregnant women are being offered financial incentives to stop smoking

Under the Smoking in Pregnancy (SIP) Incentive Scheme, expectant mothers can claim a £25 gift card just for attending an initial appointment and setting a quit date.

Smoking during pregnancy creates the risk of a range of health problems and women taking part in the scheme can then be eligible for up to three further instalments – of £75 and two of £100 – which can be spent at stores such as Mothercare, Halfords and Boots if they can go 35 weeks without a cigarette.

Sir Paul Ennals

Speaking at a meeting of South Tyneside Council Health and Wellbeing Board, Claire Mawson, a senior public health advanced practitioner, said the scheme is based on “robust evidence” that pregnant women are more likely to quit smoking if they get support.

She added: “The SIP scheme provides gift cards to women who smoke for reaching key milestones.

“The scheme is based on robust evidence that pregnant women are more likely to quit smoking if they’re part of one of these schemes.”

The SIP Incentive scheme was introduced in March 2017 and is open to all pregnant women living in South Tyneside.

A report prepared for the panel showed it was beginning to have an effect, with smoking rates falling among those involved by the end of 2017/18.

Between April 2014 and March 2015, it was found that a quarter all mums-to-be in South Tyneside were still smoking at the time they give birth – more than twice the national average.

The figure was the highest for any local authority in the North East and in the top five areas in the country for women taking such health risks.

The data - by the Health and Social Care Information Centre - showed that 25.9% of the borough’s mums were smoking while pregnant, compared with the English average of 11.4 %.

During that time 1,556 women in South Tyneside fell pregnant - with 403 continuing to smoke.

Tom Hall, STC’s director of public health, said the next step in the effort to tackle smoking rates was to see it ‘denormalised’, especially among the young.

Members were told strategies to achieve this included getting children to produce anti and stop smoking videos for social media.

Some on of the board expressed scepticism about this approach however.

Sir Paul Ennals, chair of the local safeguarding children board, said: “The messages children and young people think will work are not necessarily the ones that will work.

“It’s terrific that we’re doing this, but we should have a moment’s pause before we roll anything out.”